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Seminar on Gender and Islamic Legal Reform by Dr. Rumee Ahmed and Dr. Ayesha S. Chaudhry, University of British Columbia, Canada.

Speakers: Dr. Rumee Ahmed and Dr. Ayesha S. Chaudhry, University of British Columbia, Canada.

Day/Date/Time: Tuesday, 9 December 2014, 2:30pm-4:30pm

Venue: International Institute of Advanced Islamic Studies (IAIS) Malaysia


Gender LegalReform[click for more pictures]


2:00pm–2:30pm Registration of participants

2:30pm–2:35pm Welcoming Remarks by the Moderator Associate Professor Dr. Mohamed Azam bin Mohamed Adil, Deputy CEO, IAIS Malaysia

2:35pm–2:40pm Opening Remarks by Professor Dr. Mohammad Hashim Kamali, Founding CEO, IAIS Malaysia

2:40pm–3:10pm Presentation: Dr. Rumee Ahmed, "Islamic Legal Reform: A View from Within"

3:10pm–3:40pm Presentation: Dr. Ayesha S. Chaudhry, "The Great Muslim Gender Debate: Learning to Disagree Agreeably"

3:40pm–4:40pm Q&A session

4:40pm    Concluding remarks by the moderator and adjourn the seminar.



The seminar will examine approaches to Islamic law impinging on women’s rights, focusing on domestic violence and inheritance. It explores how specific interpretations and consequent rulings produced by scholars are inextricably linked to greater narratives and vision about the normative in Islam, from idealised cosmologies about God-human relationship to the construction of subjunctive worlds of how the law ought to function. Yet this requires traversing beyond the legal to see its inter-connection with exegesis, hadith, theology and politics.


Abstract of Presentations:

Dr. Rumee Ahmed: Islamic Legal Reform: A View from Within

The Islamic legal tradition has proven more pliable than has been recently assumed. Seemingly entrenched and inviolable injunctions have been reformed throughout Muslim history through a method I call “Islamic Systematics”. In this lecture, I describe this internal method of legal reform through the case study of inheritance law, particularly with regard to women’s inheritance.

Dr. Ayesha S. Chaudhry: The Great Muslim Gender Debate: Learning to Disagree Agreeably

In this lecture, we will discuss the ways that Muslims speak authoritatively and diversely about their shared Islamic traditions. Through a study of Muslim scholarly and activist voices surrounding the cosmological and legal implications of Q. 4:34 and domestic violence, we will journey through the centuries, learning about the responsibility of present Muslim communities to engage, participate in and shape their own religious intellectual and legal traditions.


About the speakers

Dr. Rumee Ahmed is Assistant Professor of Islamic Law at the University of British Columbia. He received his doctorate in Religious Studies from the University of Virginia, with a sub-specialisation in Islamic Scripture, Interpretation, and Practice. His research interests include Islamic Studies, Islamic Law and Legal Theory, Hermeneutics, Islamic Theology, and Scriptural Reasoning. He is widely published, and is the author of Narratives of Islamic Legal Theory (Oxford University Press, 2012) and co-editor of the Oxford Handbook on Islamic Law. He is currently working on a manuscript titled, The Art and Science of Islamic Legal Reform (Stanford University Press) which describes how Islamic law reformed in the past, and suggests systematic reforms for the future; particularly with regard to women’s rights, sexual rights, and freedom of religion.

Dr. Ayesha S. Chaudhry is Assistant Professor of Islamic Studies and Gender Studies in the Department of Classical, Near Eastern and Religious Studies and the Institute for Gender, Race, Sexuality and Social Justice at UBC. She completed her Ph.D. at New York University in the Department of Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies. Her research interests include Islamic law, Qur'anic exegesis, and feminist hermeneutics.  She is the author of Domestic Violence and the Islamic Tradition: Ethics, Law and the Muslim Discourse on Gender (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013). This book explores the relationship of modern Muslims to the inherited Islamic tradition through a study of legal and exegetical discussions of wife-beating in the pre- and post-colonial periods. Currently, she is collaboratively working on a book project on inter-faith feminist hermeneutics, which explores and challenges the limits of feminist interpretations of patriarchal religious texts in the three Abrahamic faiths, called Difficult Texts or Difficult Women?: The Challenge of Scripture to Feminist Readings. She is an Early Career Scholar at the Peter Wall Institute for Advanced Studies and is the recipient of the Research Mentorship award for an interdisciplinary project entitled, "Living Islam Between Text and Practice: A Case Study of Domestic Violence". She is also developing methods of bridging the academic and community divide by translating her research interests into artistic expression that might appeal to a wider audience. She is working on a project that explores the meanings of multiple intersecting political discourses surrounding religious women’s sartorial choices. This project is entitled "Cover Story".


Download Audio Recording of this seminar (MP3 format)

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Media Coverage - Berita Harian Online (in Bahasa Malaysia)

Contact Information

International Institute of Advanced Islamic Studies (IAIS) Malaysia
Jalan Elmu, Off Jalan Universiti 59100 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Tel: +603-7956 9188  Fax: +603-7956 2188 / +603-7956 2966  Email: reply@iais.org.my

Quotable Quotes

Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success. - Henry Ford

Humour Without Malice

A man went to Ibn 'Aqeel and said, "Whenever I plunge myself two to three times into a river to take a bath, I am not sure whether the water reached every part of my body, and am consequently unsure whether I have purified myself. What should I do?" He said "Do not pray." "Why do you say that?" Ibn 'Aqeel answered: "Allah's messenger [pbuh] said, 'The pen is lifted from three: from the child until he reaches adulthood, from the one who is sleeping until he wakes up, and from the insane man until he regains his senses.' And whoever plunges himself into a river once, twice and then three times, yet still feels that he has not taken a bath is insane."


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